Nico’s Pick up D&D 4e Game

My 6 year old son Nico and 5 year old daughter Rorie are at their Granny’s for the next 3 days as both Alex and I work and school only starts on Thursday. That means that I won’t have new chapters of Nico’s Quest to share with you.

I did however start a D&D 4e campaign with him yesterday morning and I thought I’d share it with you as, once again, my son gave me excellent insights on how to improvise and DM rapidly for a 6 year old’s attention span.

The Adventures of Super Nico, Dragonborn Paladin of Goodness!

“Daddy? Can we play that Story Game where you ask all those questions?”

“This is a game for Bedtime Nico, but do you want to play a game like it with the little figurines and the map?”

(Nico perks up) ‘You mean the game where I help the nice lady with the cellar full of Monsters?

I have been playing some near-no-rules RPG games with the minis and tiles before, this time I wanted to try full 4e with me keeping all the rules behind my screen and let Nico roll dice and move minis.

“Yes, only you get to chose some of the things in her cellar”


I hand Nico all my 4X4 Dungeon Tiles and he promptly starts to sort them in Cool/Boring piles. During that time, I set up my 4e DM screen and take out the pre-generated characters of Keep on the Shadowfell (I won’t play that adventure after all, so I might as well cannibalize it).

“So Nico, who do you want to play today”

“Same as always, Super Nico, the Knight”

“Well, I have pictures of cool heroes in my booklet here, why don’t we look at them”

He glances at them and isn’t impressed, until I turn to the last page of the adventure showing the Dragonborn Paladin.

“I want that one daddy!”

“Good choice, did you know that he can breathe fire over a large area on the map? He can also make his Sword glow with the Power of the Dragon gods and blast evil doers!”


“Here’s your figurine.” I hand him an upright Medium White Dragon. “So Nico, do you want a story where there is more talking to people or where there is fighting bad guys?”


“I hear ya!”

I reach in my large Dungeon tiles Ziplock and pick out the Tavern Tile and put Nico outside and Noëlla the friendly Tavern Keeper/Quest Giver behind her bar.

Nico: “Will she recognize me?”

Chatty: “Of course she will, she knows heroes by what’s in their heart, not what they look like.” (Tacky yes, but I’ve a parenting agenda here… somewhere).

“Cool! I enter the store and ask her what’s today’s adventure.” (Memo to self: an Adventure Menu!)

Noella: “Super Nico! I’m glad you just came in, there’s a small stranger in my cellar that needs help and he asked for you specifically?”

Nico: “He did? Does Noella have objects for me?”

“Of course she does.” I look at the Pre-Gen’s character sheet and grab my box of Gamemastery Item cards. and pull out a Plate Armour, a Longsword, a Javelin (with a post it written 3 on it) and a Holy Symbol and give them to Nico.

“What’s that necklace (Holy symbol) do daddy?”

“It calls the ancient Dragon Spirits to give you special powers and help you”


“You also get a special item!” I grab a card at random from the box and get… a Key.

“What’s that for?”

“Noëlla tells you that there’s a secret door in her cellar that leads to an ancient treasure room where you can get to a special item that will help in your quest. As you talk, you both climb down the stairs and you see a little scared man waiting beside an open Secret door hidden as a Huge barrel mounted on the wall” I lay down a large featureless tile and add one door and a Goblin figurine.

“Is that where my treasure is?” (I kinda know what he wants to do first).

“No that’s the door that the little scared goblin came out of, your secret door is here.” I place another door on a different wall. “The little goblin runs to you, introduces himself as Bromiket and asks for your help to dislodge a nasty monster from his home in the dungeon”

“I want to help him but I need my special item first.”

Bromiket: “Well, I can help you get the item and then you can help me with the monster?”


At this point, I grab the Halfing Pregenerated sheet and place it beside Nico’s Paladin behind my screen. I also have the Monster Manual opened to the Monster per Level table and am looking up the level 1 monsters to build an encounter. I place a corridor tile beside the new secret door and Nico places his mini at the end of it. I place a Tapestry acting as a door at the other end of the corridor .

Having decided on Decrepit skeletons as the 1st enemy I describe: “You hear the sounds of metal scraping on the floor and a strange rattling sound”

“I look behind the tapestry”

I set a 6X6 Tile with Runes on the outer squares and start looking at Nico’s Pile of 4X4 tiles he chose. I find one featuring a pyramid of Bones and Skulls and plunk it on the 6X6 Tile. I put 4 Skeleton Minis around the pyramid.

“Okay, you see 4 skeletons armed with swords and wearing rusted armour walking slowly around a large Pyramid made of bone, they don’t seem to notice you, What do you do?”

“I take my javelin out and throw it at the nearest skelly”

“Take that round dice and roll, you need to roll high”

Clatter, Clatter, a 4 comes up. “Do I hit?”

“No, the Javelin wizzes by the Skeleton and hits the Bone Pile”

“Awwww…. Can Bromiket play now?”

“Sure, he throws a big knife and it also misses”

“That’s no fun!”

“Be patient, it will get better”. I make Nico Roll for initiative and he goes 1st while the skellies and Bromiket go after.

“I attack with my sword”

‘Okay, it starts glowing with the power of the Dragon spirits” Clatter Clatter… I pick up a marker pen and give it to him. “Show me how you swing your sword” As he demonstrates, I move my own pen up and block his swing “The skelly blocks your attack and sparks of light shower all over the place”

“Cool! Next time I’ll hit it!”

“Bromiket throws another blade and misses. All Skellies move around you and start to attack. The first one misses you, the second one hits your shield like that (I hit my Empty Coke can with the marker to make it resonate). The third one hits your armour hard (Nico does the Coke Can trick, enjoying it immensely) but fails to hurt you. The last one slips under your armour and hurts you a bit.”

“Am I badly hurt daddy?”

“No it’s just a scratch, it’s your turn now, you know that now would be a good time to breathe fire.”

“It is? I do it!” Clatter, Clatter (20!), Clatter

“All 3 skellies caught in your blast are instantly incinerated!” (Hurrah for Minions!)


“Bromiket takes his dagger and hits the last one real hard (Clatter Clatter the dice say) it falls to pieces real hard, you beat all skellies!”


“As you celebrate, you hear a rumble on top of the Pyramid and you see bones jumping and forming a bigger, much stronger looking Skeleton. It says ‘How dare you disturb my slumber and destroy my trusted guards?'”

As I describe this, I can see that his attention is starting to wander, we have played for 30 minutes, which is his usual attention span for non-video games.

“Can we go play something else now dad, like Boom Blox?”

“Sure, do you want to end the game?”

“No, take a picture or something so we can start again later!”

“I’ll put all minis and tiles in this empty Ziplock bag and I’ll write ‘Nico’s Game, Do Not Touch!” on it”

“Okay! I’ll race you upstairs!”

To be continued.

Lessons Learned:

  • Letting players influence a quest is always good.
  • Picking plot elements from a deck of cards or a Random Table is always great improv fuel.
  • D&D 4e is really fun and dead simple when it needs to be.

Credits: Wizards of the Coast (Image)


  1. Your 6 year old son has the same attention span as some of my 20-something year old players 🙂

    Dave T. Games last blog post..Critical Hits Podcast #11: True Dungeon Actual Play

  2. Very cool! Sounds like you and Nico are having a great time! 🙂

  3. Thanks for mentioning the attention span limit, sometimes it seems like playing with kids is all better than playing with grownups and no downside.

  4. I’m jerking in tears, reading the making of new roleplayer.

    Questing GMs last blog post..Gygax Controversy at Gencon

  5. My son tends to have a similar attention span as well, though just a bit longer (he’s 7 though, so that’s something that grows a bit with age). In a few years though, he’ll be so enraptured that he’ll play 12 hour marathon sessions like they’re nothing 😉

    Thanks for sharing this one Chatty!

    Toms last blog post..Alignment Part 7 – The Free Spirit

  6. It’s probably a good idea to introduce your son to roleplaying in an early age. I currently try to convert some of my younger friends (20yrs.+) to gaming and I am failing miserably.

  7. If I may allow a suggestion Stargazer for when you next try with your 20-somethings.

    Embrace the similarities between MMORPGS and tabletop RPGs. Refluff some of the mechanics like Cooldown, Damage per Round and the Wow roles.

    Then create a simple adventure that reeks of the rules of Cool and Fun. Make the players feel like freaking rockstars.

    Finally, put scenes and challenges that they could not tackle in a MMORPG because of the shortcuts that the software needs to take but that Tabletop games are not limited by. Have characters break stuff, swing from ropes, jump on the back of dragons and shoot lasers

    My 2 cents

  8. Picking plot elements from a deck of cards or a Random Table is always great improv fuel.

    Yes. Yes, it is. If in doubt, use Magic the Gathering cards or tarot cards.

    Tommis last blog post..In spite of laser clerics, or not bashing 4e

  9. In fact making a ‘Ideas deck’ mixing items, Magic cards, and tarot cards would make a great post (hint hint)…

  10. Argh, now you’ve got me thinking about other ways to use my huge box of CCGs sitting in my closet. I already designed a game that used them, now I’m thinking about designing an RPG with them…

    Dave T. Games last blog post..Review: Braid

  11. That would be just plain awesome!

  12. For the record: Mana Burn. A bit too fiddly an rpg for me, but it has some good ideas.

    Tommis last blog post..In spite of laser clerics, or not bashing 4e